Is it really all over for the office?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 23, 2020

Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

Many companies don’t expect workers to return to offices until next summer. Those that have allowed employees back are doing so in a phased fashion.

London law firm Osborne Clarke, for instance, plans to have up to 25% of workers in the office at any one time. Goldman Sachs executives said last week that about a third of workers in New York and London were coming in regularly; JPMorgan has around 20% in both cities and Citigroup has only “a small percentage” of employees in North America back in the office.

With offices unlikely to return to their previous capacity, what happens to the $30trn global commercial-property market?

It could be facing severe economic stress considering that earlier this week, Deloitte became one of the first large UK companies to decide not to renew leases on a number of its properties following the mass shift to homeworking.

But paradoxically, demand for real estate could actually rise. Steven Goulart, the chief investment officer at MetLife, an investment management company, recently said that the “pressure to de-densify” offices in line with social distancing could actually support demand for real estate.